VOLVO Repair Manual - Table of Content [200] [700] [900]
by www.VLVworld.com - Your Internet VOLVO Part and Accessory Store Since 1997 - All rights reserved
 

2.3 VOLVO Starter, Alternator, Battery and Fuses

2.3.0 Starter, Battery, Alternator Troubleshooting Guide

2.3.1 Alternator

2.3.2 Voltage Regulator

2.3.3 Starter Motor

2.3.4 Fuses

2.3.5 Battery


2.3.0 Starter, Battery, Alternator Troubleshooting Guide

All VOLVO's share a very similar charging system and the information below is applicable to all rear wheel drive models.

Symptom
Problem solving tips
If your car doesn't start but the starter motor turns the engine and your battery is charged then

Ignition system fault

Fuel System fault

If the car doesn't start, turn on the headligths to check if your battery is discharged. If your battery is discharged then

 

 

Boost the car battery with jumping wires from another car battery, connecting the 2 positive + together and the 2 negative - together. The boosting vehicle should be running and turn at 1500 RPM to increase its charging capacity. Also turn off all electrical equipment like the headlights to save juice.

If the car starts after a battery boost and runs fine otherwise then

 
 

Alternator charging fault

Discharging problem, electrical item was ON and drained battery when parked.

Battery connection fault or battery worn

If the car will not start when boosted, and you can't even hear a clicking sound from the starter motor when the key is turned ON
Wiring to starter faulty, small low voltage wire

Automatic transmission inhibitor switch faulty. Try starting in neutral-N position.

Ignition switch faulty

If the car will not start when boosted, and you can hear a click from the starter, but motor does not turn

or starter motor turns very slowly

Starter motor connection or battery connection fault.

Starter motor fault

Engine seized

If starter motor spins very quickly with a loud noise, noisy starter motor

Flywheel (ring gear) worn

Starter mounting bolts loose


Fuse or relay problems
Fuse blown, will blow again after replacement

See the appropriate section for your VOLVO

740/760 Fuse and Relay Page

240/260 Fuse and Relay Page

2.3.1 VOLVO Alternator Charging System Diagram (typical shown)

Move your pointer over the image to view details here



 

 

A Connector
B Battery Charge Lamp
C Igntion Switch
D Alternator
E Starter Motor
F Fusebox
G Battery
H Wiring Junction box

2.3.1 VOLVO Alternator

The alternator is an electrical generator driven by the engine via a belt. As the engine turns the alternator generates electricity and charges the battery. A faulty alternator will not generate enough electricity to keep the battery fully charged.

A battery warning light (figure 2.3.1a) is located in the driver instrument panel to warn of a charging circuit problem. It is very possible to have an alternator problem without having the warning light coming ON. The warning light maybe flickering in the dark or never coming ON because it is not connected adequately. If the warning light is not connected correctly then the alternator will not charge, and of course you get no warning when that occurs. We explain how to check for most failures below but the first symptom of a dying alternator is that eventually the battery will be discharged so much that the car will not start, the starter makes a click but the engine does not turn or turns very slowly. Note that the starter may be the problem instead. To make sure the starter is good and the problem is with the battery or alternator, boost the car or recharge the battery with a battery charger. If the car still does not start, then the problem is with the starter, ignition key circuit or neutral safety switch adjustment on automatics. If the car starts fine when boosted the problem is with the alternator or its connections, or the battery.

Checking the battery warning light circuit:

  • The first test is very easy to do. Sit in your car and turn the ignition key to the ON (II) position without starting it. Many warning lights should be ON, including the red battery warning light. If the warning light is coming fully ON then go to step B If the warning light is not coming fully ON in this condition then the problem must be fixed for the alternator to work properly:
  • Check the connection of the small wire on the alternator, make sure it is tight. Follow this wire and check for cracks or damage, change wire section if required. With the key turned ON and engine not running check with a voltmeter that there is 12 Volt at the small wire connection on the alternator D+.
  • If you don't have 12 Volts at D+ the problem is probably a bad wire that shorts on the engine metal or is split open circuit. On the 240 series check fuse #13. Check the battery warning light bulb itself, swap it with a known good warning light. Remove the panel under the dash to access bulbs from behind. Twist socket a few degrees to release then pull out.
  • If you have 12 Volts at D+ and warning light is OFF check that the alternator is grounded correctly, check the blue wire from the alternator body to the engine block. On the 240 the ground wire is under the alternator and hard to reach and see because of the oil filter. On the 740 check the wire from the alternator casing to the engine. Check with a multimeter that the resistance is 0 ohms between the alternator body and the car chassis and engine. Also check that the resistance is 0 ohm between engine and chassis of the car. The engine ground wire, big blue wire to the battery - post, could be damaged.
The battery warning light is on or flickers in the dark when the engine is running:
  • Check the belt(s) tension, they could be too slack and slip (sounds like shrieieieiiiiik) when cold or wet.
  • Connect a voltmeter across the battery terminals with the headlights on. It should read 12-13 volts
  • Start the engine and idle at 2000 rpm, the voltmeter should read 13-14 volts
  • Switch on all the electrical appliances (heater blower, rear window heater, etc.)
  • With the engine still idling at about 2000 rpm the voltmeter should still read 13-14 volts
  • If the voltage dropped check the brushes on the voltage regulator. Check the voltage regulator .
  • The alternator should be replaced if you haven't found the problem with the above procedures.

Figure 2.3.1a Battery warning light


Figure 2.3.1b Alternator Mounting


Figure 2.3.1c Alternator wiring and voltage regulator
 

Alternator Replacement

If your alternator is bad, what you should do to fix it

  • VOLVO alternators are easy to find either used or rebuilt and the price is very reasonnable. Many VOLVO models share the same alternator. Shop around and you will find a cheap used or rebuilt one.
  • If you need the car to be fixed quickly, do not buy an alternator from the Internet since unexpected shipping delays may occur. Try first to get it from a local source.
  • Do not buy an alternator from a VOLVO dealer, it is very expensive. A rebuilt one will work as good or get a used one.
  • Do not try to rebuilt an alternator yourself, it is a loss of time and money. Go for a good used one and you will save a lot of time and probably money, since the parts required to rebuilt your alternator will be more expensive than a complete used one.

Alternator Replacement Procedure

  • Disconnect the battery negative(-) cable
  • Undo the electrical connecters from the rear of the alternator, making note of their positions (usually 8 and 10 mm nuts)
  • Remove the 13mm nut from the 13mm top support bolt. You may need to keep a 13mm wrench on the bolt to stop it from spinning.
  • Remove the 13mm nut from the bottom support bolt
  • Pull out both support bolts and remove the alternator and tensioner
  • With the alternator on a steady surface undo the 13mm nut from the tensioner mounting bolt(needs a 12mm wrench on the other side)
  • Attach the tensioner to the new alternator but do not fully tighten the 13mm nut (so the belt can be tensioned later)
  • Install the two support bolts but again do not fully tighten until the belt is tensioned
  • Connect the electrical connections at the rear of the alternator
  • Tension the drive belt (s) as described below

Figure 2.3.1d Alternator Mounting Bolts
 
Alternator Belt Tensioning

Starting with the 740 model the alternator may be mounted on rubber bushings (figure 2.3.1) on the driver side of the car. Difficulty in tensioning the belt or keeping the alternator aligned can be caused by worn rubber bushings, there are two bushings on the top support bolt and one on the bottom support bolt. When a rubber bushing is cracked it can no longer support the belt tension and the alternator has a tendency to twist.

Adjust the alternator drive belt to get 5-10mm (0.2-0.4 in) of deflection under firm thumb pressure in the middle of the longest run. If the deflection is within range and the belt is still slipping, a new belt should be installed.

To change the tension or install a new belt, all mounting bolts should be slackened a bit, such that the alternator is free to slide and spin.

VOLVO 240

VOLVO 740, 740 Turbo, 760 Turbo, 940

Figure 2.3.1 shows an alternator for the B230F and B230FT engines.

  • Loosen the 13mm nut from the alternator top support bolt (13mm)
  • Loosen the 13mm nut form the alternator bottom support bolt (13mm)
  • Loosen the 13mm nut from the 12mm tensioner mounting bolt at the bottom of the alternator
  • Turn the 10mm tensioning bolt:
    • clockwise to tighten the belt
    • anti-clockwise to loosen the belt
  • When the correct tension is reached tighten the three 13mm nuts




Figure 2.3.1d Alternator Tensioner


Figure 2.3.1e Alternator Belt Deflection

2.3.2 Voltage Regulator
The voltage regulator is a device mounted on the alternator that limits the output voltage of the alternator to a preset value. This prevents power surges and overcharging of the battery.

Internal voltage regulators, as shown in Figure 2.3.2a, contain two brushes (Figure 2.3.2b) which make contact with the rotor. Overtime these brushes become worn and fail to make contact with the rotor. With the voltage regulator removed it is possible to have new brushes installed, but most prefer to simply install a new regulator.

Some voltage regulators connect to a battery temperature sensor (mounted underneath the battery). These regulators can be identified by the electrical connectors on the exposed side (Figure 2.3.2c). If the battery is getting hot or the battery temperature sensor is not functioning correctly it could cause no current to be produced by the alternator.

Some 200 series volvos have an external voltage regulator. These are located next to the firewall or on one of the sidewalls of the engine compartment.

Removal Procedure

  • Disconnect the battery negative(-) cable
  • Locate the voltage regulator at the rear of the alternator
  • Undo the two flat head screws at each side of the voltage regulator
  • Remove the voltage regulator
  • When installing a new unit it is often easier to keep the brushes depressed with a screwdriver as the unit is slid into position
  • Reinstall the retaining screws

Figure 2.3.2a Mounted Voltage Regulator


Figure 2.3.2b Voltage Regulator Brushes


Figure 2.3.2c Voltage Regulator with Battery Temperature Sensor Connections

2.3.3 Bosch VOLVO Starter Motor

All 4 cylinder rear wheel drive VOLVO's use the same Bosch starter motor. You can actually take a 1995 940 starter motor and install it on a 1962 VOLVO 122s ! The 6 cylinder and Diesel models use different starter motors also made by Bosch, but all starter motors share the same design.

The starter motor uses a large amount of current to turn the engine by electrical power. Mechanical energy is transmitted from the starter motor via a pinion gear which drives the flywheel at the rear of the engine. The current needed for the starter motor is too great to safely pass through the ignition switch (key socket). Instead, the battery is connected to a solenoid which acts like a big relay; it is trigged by low voltage current from the ignition switch. When the solenoid is trigged, it closes an internal contact feeding high current to the starter itself, spinning the pinion gear.

Check the starter motor connections before replacing it. By experience I can say that often it is not the starter itself but the electrical connections that are defective, sometimes the ignition switch.

Checking the low current (blue/yellow color, or blue green color) wire connection to the solenoid.

  • The small low voltage wire connecting the starter to the ignition switch is often the problem. Have a look at the starter and locate the 2 small wires connected to the starter. The one on the outside should be blue/yellow or blue/green color, this is the wire we are discussing below. The other low voltage brown wire, on the inside and harder to reach, should be left in place.
  • Make sure the wire is holding tight on the connector and the insulation is not worn through and rubbing on a metal part of the engine. Check the voltage on that wire connection when the ignition key is turned to the starting III position, it should be 12 Volts. If you dont get 12 Volts then the problem is with that small wire, the ignition switch or the neutral saftey switch on automatics.
  • To be sure the problem is not with the starter you can start the car by bypassing the ignition switch circuit. Go inside the car and make sure it is in neutral position or Park for an automatic. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT NOT TO SART THE CAR WHEN IT IS IN GEAR. Turn the ignition key to the ON postion II. Disconnect the small wire on the starter and connect to the tab a new wire with enough lenght to reach the battery positive terminal. Double check that the car is in neutral. Touch the battery positive terminal with the new wire and the enigne should start.
  • If it starts the problem is not the starter, but the small wire worn, the ignition switch or the neutral saftey switch on automatics is faulty.
  • If the car still doesnt start after bypassing the ignition circuit, the problem is either with the high current wires (see below) or the starter motor itself is bad.

Checking the high current wire connections:

  • Check the big red positive wire from the battery to the starter motor.
  • Check the big blue negative battery ground cable to the engine and chassis.
  • Check the voltage on the starter motor red wire retaining nut. It should be the same as the battery voltage, roughtly 12 Volts

If you have noisy starter motor making a loud noise when spinning, the flywheel (ring gear) is probably worn.

  • The starter motor spins the engine via the flywheel, a big disc with a gear on the perimeter, located between the engine and transmission. The teeth could be worn, remove the starter motor to see through the mounting hole (see procedure below). If you are lucky the starter may be noisy because of loose mounting bolts, but iIf you started the car many times with loose bolts the flywheel is probably damaged anyway.
  • To correct the problem you must remove the transmission to replace the flywheel.

If your starter motor is bad, what you should do to fix it

  • VOLVO Bosch starter motors are easy to find either used or rebuilt and the price is very reasonnable. All VOLVO's with 4 cylinder engine and rear wheel drive use basically the same starter from 1962 to 1995. Shop around and you will find a cheap used or rebuilt one.
  • If you need the car to be fixed quickly, do not buy a starter motor from the Internet since unexpected shipping delays may occur. Try first to get it from a local source.
  • Do not buy a new starter motor from a VOLVO dealer, it is very expensive. A rebuilt one will work as good or get a used one.
  • Do not try to rebuilt a starter motor yourself, it is a loss of time and money. Go for a good used one and you will save a lot of time and probably money, since the parts required to rebuilt your starter will be more expensive than a complete used starter.

Starter Motor Replacement

  • The starter motor is on the driver side for all 4 cyl. rear wheel drive VOLVO's from 1962 on. On 6 cyl engines it is on the passenger side. It is fastened to the bell housing (where the engine connects to the transmission) with 2 bolts.
  • Disconnect the battery ground cable
  • Undo the electrical connections from the starter solenoid
  • Undo the two19mm bolts attaching the starter motor to the engine. Undo the top bolt from above using a open end wrench. Push aside wires and undo air ducts if necessary to get better access. I like to use a long 19 mm wrench and hit the handle with an hammer to break it loose. Once loose you can often undo it with your fingers.
  • Raise the side of the car and remove the front wheel to get better access to the bottom bolt. Rest the car on on jack stands.
  • Undo the lower mounting bolt from below. Ensure that the car is safely supported as the bolts are usually tight, try accessing them through the engine compartment and from below to find the best position
  • Detach the tail-end mounting bracket (if installed)
  • Install the replacement starter motor in the reverse order

 

Vovlo Starter Motor Circuit


Figure 2.3.3 Bosch VOLVO Starter Motor for B18, B20, B21, B23 , B230 engines

 


2.3.4 Fuses

Please go to the appropriate fuse and relay page:

2.3.5 Battery

A battery will die if completely discharged for a long time. At a freezing temparature the high water content of the discharged state freezes solid, destroying the battery. Otherwise batteries are good for a very long time and need to be recharged every 6 months and stored in a warm place.

Dont replace a battery unless it is obviously damaged or over 5 years old. Before replacing a battery make sure the problem is not with the starter or its connections, or alternator . Fix that then recharge the battery; you dont need to change it. Many repair shop will try to sell you a new battery because they make a good profit on it, just say "no thanks".

Checking the battery connections:

  • Check the big red positive wire from the battery to the starter motor. Refer to the wiring diagram in the starter section above. Remove the post cap covering the battery connection (if it is still there, most get lost with time)
  • Check the big blue negative battery ground cable to the engine and chassis.
  • Check the voltage at the junction box located on the inner fender, follow the small red wire to the junction box.

Battery hold down clamp or bracket and supporting tray

  • The battery must be firmly held in place to pass a safety inspection. Make sure the hold down clamp is in place and retaining the battery. Try to lift it and check that the car is lifting with it. If the battery was replaced with a different size the bracket may not fit. You can still pass an inspection by holding down the battery with heavy duty bungee cords wrapped around the casing and support plate under.
  • The support plate on 240's and earlier models is made of metal and will corrode with time due to battery acid. Replace it with a VOLVO genuine replacement or get a universal kit. The kit comes with an heavy duty plastic tray that bolts in place on the old one. This plastic tray will last longer than another metal replacement and will be cheaper.

If the battery doesnt stay charged and your car is dead after being parked for some time

  • Check for an electrical item that stays ON and drains the battery when parked. Check for headlights, radio, dome lights, glove box light, clock, add on accessories. I have seen radios and CD players that were installed such that they were always powered.
  • Check the fuse box and check the accessories like power antenna fuse . Measure the current from the battery red positive cable to the junction box and rest of the car. Pull out the fuses one by one and see if the current being used is lower then before, check fuse box label to see on which ciruit the problematic equipment is located. As a temproray fix simply remove the fuse and live without the equipment until the short is found.

Checking the electrolyte level

  • Some battery models, like the one shown to the right, have caps to allow inspection of the electrolyte level in each cell. You dont need to check unless the battery was tilted or flipped over. To check that the electrolyte liquid is at the correct level, unscrew the caps on top of each cell and fill up with pure H20 water found in drug stores.


 

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